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Eggerland

Page 2:
Adventures of Lolo

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by ZZZ and MP83 - November 2, 2008

If you're a long time NES player then you might recall a game called Adventures of Lolo. You might remember its star, Lolo, (a little blue something-or-other) whose mission to rescue Princess Lala (a little pink something-or-other) took him through room after room of floor after floor of a giant tower reaching all the way up to the clouds, eventually (if you were really good at solving puzzles, at least) finding his princess at its very top. You might also recall that it had a couple sequels released for the system not all that long thereafter. What most weren't aware of at the time was that Adventures of Lolo was just the latest installment in a larger series called Eggerland, which by that time had already well established itself in its native Japan.

Eggerland got started with an inaugural release for MSX computers back in 1985. That was followed with another installment for the same platform before receiving sequels for both Famicom Disk System and Famicom - all before it ever reached American shores (though Europe got both MSX titles). The series didn't end after the NES trilogy, either. There was also a relatively little known game for the monochrome Game Boy before the series went back to Japanese exclusivity with a couple of releases for Windows PCs. The franchise actually lasted a full decade and a half, only being retired after a final installment in 2000.

Ever since its initial release, the three NES titles have been some of the system's most beloved puzzle games. And with such a long history, it's hard to figure out why the series has been neglected in recent years. This is especially puzzling when considering that it was made by Nintendo's second party developer HAL. Nintendo is the same company that released several Game & Watch compilations and a Balloon Fight sequel for DS, so they're not exactly the company to simply abandon a successful IP. But Eggerland was one of their longest running franchises, and it's almost like they've forgotten about the thing entirely.

Fortunately, the series has left behind nine of the best puzzle games ever. What the series is not, however, is particularly diverse. If you recall just how similar the NES games were to each other then you'll have an idea of how little the franchise changed with each installment. That's not to say that the puzzles themselves were all the same, though - just the opposite. They're actually some of the most remarkably well crafted puzzles in the genre. And all due to some brilliantly simple mechanics.

The Eggerland titles are those kinds of games where everything revolves around one very basic, constant concept. Each puzzle begins with Lolo inside of a small room that invariably fits neatly onto one single screen. Regardless of what exactly it was that got him there to begin with, Lolo needs to get out of whatever room he happens to be in at any given time, and the only way to do that is to nab the contents of a treasure chest that's located in there. But to do that he has to open it first, and the only way that's gonna happen is if he grabs a bunch of tiles called Heart Framers (Diamond Framers in Eggerland Mystery), which are scattered throughout the room. But here's where it gets tricky: Lolo's not in there alone. Various monsters populate these rooms, too, and if he crosses paths with one then he's got to start the room over again - until he runs out of lives. Luckily, sometimes grabbing a Heart Framer will grant Lolo a couple magic shots, with which he can temporarily encase said beasts in giant eggs. And the rooms themselves are veritable mazes, where a misstep can get you stuck and force you to restart.

Four of the more common monsters in the series are the snakes, the medusas, the skulls, and the dragons. The medusas turn you to stone if you cross their path, forcing you to put something between them and Lolo for him to get past. On the other hand, the skulls won't do anything until after you grab the last of the room's Heart Framers - at which point, they start to chase you down. The dragons will also only wake up after you grab the last of the Heart Framers, but then they shoot (avoidable) fireballs in your direction if you cross their path. Then there are the snakes, who just don't do anything at all, making them nothing more than fodder for your magic shots. But what a snake can do (after it's been egg-ified) is block a medusa, a skull, or a dragon (or anything else). And therein is the real brilliance of the series. The trick to solving the puzzles is finding out how all of the parts interact.

And the depth of the puzzles doesn't end there. Several other monsters (like the armadillos, the Domo-kun look-a-likes, and the hopping lizards) are mobile at all times, adding a real-time element to many of the puzzles' solutions. And the terrain has to be given just as much consideration as the monsters. For example, a boulder will protect you from anything, but can't be moved, whereas a tree acts the same way, except that it doesn't provide protection from medusas. By moving an egg over water you can cross single space gaps or float down the current (if there is one) as if on a raft. There's also sand (which slows down Lolo, but not the monsters), grass (which only Lolo can cross), and arrow tiles (which can't be crossed from the direction that they're pointing toward), among a couple others. Once in a while you'll find tools to help you out, namely a hammer (to break a single boulder), a bridge (to cross the water once), or an arrow (to change the direction of an arrow tile).

Most of the titles have little or no story told in-game, but there's always some kind of tale that's at least contained in the instruction manual. Each installment actually has its own plot, but the gist of what goes on over the course of the larger series is this: There are these two kingdoms, Eggerland and Eden Land. Eden Land is awesome, whereas Eggerland is miserable. The king of Eggerland - King Egger - comes to Eden Land one day and kidnaps Princess Lala, daughter of King Eden. Some craziness that makes no sense whatsoever happens, and a guy named Lolo saves the day. So then Lolo and Lala - mutually drawn to each other because of their oddly similar names - get hitched and live happily ever after. But taking a hint from Bowser, King Egger returns many a time to kidnap the same princess and take over the same kingdom, each time having his plans foiled by the very same Lolo.

Out of the ten releases (nine different games and a port) in the Eggerland franchise, only the three NES games made it to America. Europe saw three others, and Japan got all but one of them. Despite the Japanese exclusivity of several of the titles, there's no text during any of the actual puzzles, so they're all fully playable without any language knowledge. The games are practically all the same thing, but there are still a few differences between the episodes.

Eggerland Mystery (MSX)

Eggerland 2: Meikyuu Shinwa (MSX2)

Adventures of Lolo (NES)

Fukkatsu! Eggerland (Windows)


Eggerland Mystery (エッガーランド ミステリー) - MSX (1985)

Japanese Cover

European Cover

In a way, Eggerland Mystery could be considered the definitive release in the series, in that it's pretty much the mold from which each and every one of its sequels was cast. That also means that it's the most bare-bones entry in the franchise, containing only the core elements that would come to define the Eggerland titles as a whole. Other than just solving puzzles, you can also mess around with Construction Mode, where you can design your own puzzles with the very same parts and pieces that the pre-made ones are built out of. Overall, Eggerland Mystery is pretty good for seeing what the series is all about, or for just learning how to play the things. It's also considerably easier than most of its follow-ups, and the least nerve racking of the Japanese releases, so it's also good for honing your skills before you take on its tougher sequels. In fact, the first several puzzles are something of an in-game tutorial, introducing you in turn to each of the elements that you'll encounter throughout the rest of the puzzles.

But that's not all there is to Eggerland Mystery. For starters, it's the only title in the entire series that rewards you with points. It also has a series exclusive "B" mode, where there's a time limit to every stage and a different scoring system. There are even five extra stages that you can reach via a special password. Lastly, it introduces one of the franchise's most obtuse elements: On rare occasions, if you place a block where a defeated monster just was then it might cause them to respawn elsewhere - this can actually be essential to solving some of the more difficult puzzles, which can be confusing, to say the least.

Quick Info:

Developer:

HAL Labs

Publisher:

HAL Labs

Designer:

F. Nakamura
I. Okuyama
Hiroaki Suga

Genre:

Action: Single Screen
Puzzle

Themes:

Level Editor
Player Character: Blob


Eggerland Mystery (MSX)

Eggerland Mystery (MSX)

Eggerland Mystery (MSX)

Eggerland Mystery (MSX)


Eggerland 2 / Meikyuu Shinwa (迷宮神話) / Eggerland (エッガーランド) - MSX, MSX2, Famicom Disk System (1986)

Japanese MSX Cover

European MSX Cover

Japanese FDS Cover

Meikyuu Shinwa ("Labyrinth Myth") is pretty much indicative of what each subsequent release in the franchise would be like. It's not all that different from the original - both the puzzles and mechanics pretty much work the exact same way - but it's definitely not identical either. For starters, Construction Mode has inexplicably been ditched completely, with absolutely nothing to make up for it. Furthermore, it also loses the purely linear format. In the original you would finish a puzzle and then move straight to the next one. But here you're often given multiple exits after finishing a stage. However, you don't have total freedom to pick and choose your path through the game. You still need to play through each puzzle, and you always end up at the same place at the end.

Even then, it's still cool to have some say over which order you solve the puzzles in. It's also quite a bit more challenging than the predecessor, and assumes right off the bat that you're already familiar with how the Eggerland series works. Making it even more challenging, there are also some very esoteric puzzle solutions that are nigh-impossible to figure out without a FAQ, due to having requirements that normally don't apply to the rest of the game. It's not impossible though, as the game gives you a vague hint on the right side of the screen. You can also find four "gods" during the course of the game who will grant you the ability to use their powers (infinite ammo, super speed, etc.) in the final few puzzles. The enemies Leepers, Rockies, and Don Medusas also make their first appearance in Eggerland 2.

Interestingly, it seems that the game did make its way to Europe in some capacity. However, even though the manual and box cover are translated to English, its extreme rarity and the fact that the game itself is completely unaltered suggest that this version might be an unofficial release. And if you look closely at the cartridge, the original Japanese label is hidden behind the English one, making its bootleg status all but certain. Either way, both versions play just fine on both MSX1 and MSX2 (which it was designed for) machines, though with a brown background (in place of black) and slighty more vibrant colors on the latter. There's also a port/remake for the Famicom Disk System from 1987, with the title changed to just Eggerland. This version has all of the original puzzles plus twenty-two originals (for a total of one hundred twenty-two). Plus the graphics are redrawn, the music is different, the framerate is smoother, and you can save your game, rather than having to rely on passwords. In the Famicom version, there's an opening demo of King Egger kidnapping Lala and a rock-paper-scissors mini-game during the final battle, something that is entirely missing from the MSX original. In the Famicom game was also the first time when players saw King Egger in the game. Before that he was only mentioned in the manuals.

Quick Info:

Developer:

HAL Labs

Publisher:

HAL Labs

Designer:

F. Nakamura
I. Okuyama
Hiroaki Suga

Genre:

Action: Single Screen
Puzzle

Themes:

Player Character: Blob


Eggerland 2 (MSX2)

Eggerland 2 (MSX2)

Eggerland 2 (MSX2)


Comparison Screenshots


Eggerland: Meikyuu no Fukkatsu (エッガーランド: 迷宮の復活) - Famicom (1988)

Cover

The subtitle of the series' first Famicom exclusive, Meikyuu no Fukkatsu, translates to "Revival of the Labyrinth." This is a reference to the fact that it's another trip through the maze-like structure of the second MSX title. And not too surprisingly, it plays exactly like Eggerland 2. The structure, the locked doors that require keys, the map, the four "gods" - everything that was in that game is here, too. That being said, it outdoes its predecessor thanks to a couple of basic improvements and some extra content. For starters, you begin the game with a map, and can bring it up at any time you like. It also has the most puzzles of any console iteration of the series, with a grand total of one hundred sixty-two.

The four gods return.

There's also a magic bell that you can collect that will ring in certain pre-set rooms to let you know that there's something special hidden there (like a secret exit, for example). It's also worth noting that the game ends humorously with a playable turn-based RPG-style "battle" (it's actually impossible to lose) between Lolo and King Egger. Just like in the predecessor, some of the puzzles have highly esoteric solutions, and they're even tougher this time out. As a result, it's probably the most challenging entry in the franchise, and not exactly the best game for introducing beginners to the series.

Eggerland: Meikyuu no Fukkatsu (Famicom)

Quick Info:

Developer:

HAL Labs

Publisher:

HAL Labs

Director:

Hiroaki Suga

Designer:

Miya Aoki
Pikio Midorikawa
Takashi Saito

Genre:

Action: Single Screen
Puzzle

Themes:

Player Character: Blob


Eggerland: Meikyuu no Fukkatsu (Famicom)

Eggerland: Meikyuu no Fukkatsu (Famicom)

Eggerland: Meikyuu no Fukkatsu (Famicom)


Eggerland: Souzou he no Tabidachi (エッガーランド: 創造への旅立ち) - Famicom Disk System (1988)

Disk

Souzou he no Tabidachi translates to "Departure to Creation." Like with "Revival of the Labyrinth" before, this is a fitting description of the game itself. It references the fact that it brings the Creation Mode from the original back to the series, after it was abandoned in the previous two installments. It further resembles the first title in that it's also one of the most basic entries in the franchise, and among the easiest of the Japanese releases. It's also tied for the shortest game in the entire series, with just fifty puzzles in all. Given that the predecessors all had a hundred or more, this might seems like a problem, but the caliber of the puzzles is as high as ever. So if you found the prequels to be a bit overwhelming, then this might be the best of the early titles to start with. Plus, it's always cool to be able to challenge a buddy to a self-made puzzle. Interestingly, this seems to have been one of the FDS titles that were available solely from Disk Writer machines, as it doesn't appear to have ever been released at retail.

Quick Info:

Developer:

HAL Labs

Publisher:

HAL Labs

Genre:

Action: Single Screen
Puzzle

Themes:

Level Editor
Player Character: Blob


Eggerland: Souzou he no Tabidachi (FDS)

Eggerland: Souzou he no Tabidachi (FDS)


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